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Amidst Controversy, President Distributed 65th National Film Awards

Irani also hailed the noticeable presence of regional cinema and talent and also drew attention to how over 20 women were honoured at the stage.

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Iconic actress Sridevi was posthumously honoured at the 71st Cannes Film Festival. Filmmaker Subhash Ghai, who received the award on her behalf, says he felt honoured.
Sridevi gotthe TITAN Reginald F. Lewis Film Icon Award at 71st Cannes Film Festival. Wikimedia commons
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Controversy marred the 65th National Film Awards ceremony here on Thursday with several awardees protesting against the whittling down of the number of those to be honoured by the President to a select 11.

Upset over breaking from the long-held tradition of the President giving away all the awards, around 60 awardees wrote to the Directorate of Film Festivals, President’s office and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, over the “discrimination”.

The name plates of the absentee winners were placed facing down at the Vigyan Bhawan, where several others from across the length and breadth of the country congregated to celebrate the diversity of India and Indian cinema.

Celebrated names like K.J. Yesudas and A.R. Rahman, apart from actors Riddhi Sen, Divya Dutta and Pankaj Tripathi and a host of others attended the gala.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani and Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore handed out the remainder of the 125 awards at the event, which was also devoid of a musical performance unlike every year.

Another posthumous honour went to Sridevi, whose powerful performance in her last film "Mom" fetched her the Best Actress Award. Her husband Boney Kapoor and two daughters -- Jahnvi and Khushi -- took the stage together to receive what was Sridevi's first National Award in a career of 50 years.
Boney Kapoor and daughter receiving Sridevi’s award from President, BollywoodCountry

The prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award — the country’s highest cinema honour — was given posthumously to Vinod Khanna, whose wife Kavita Khanna and son Akshaye Khanna received it. It was an “emotional and proud moment,” Akshaye said.

Another posthumous honour went to Sridevi, whose powerful performance in her last film “Mom” fetched her the Best Actress Award. Her husband Boney Kapoor and two daughters — Jahnvi and Khushi — took the stage together to receive what was Sridevi’s first National Award in a career of 50 years.

President Ram Nath Kovind, who joined the ceremony in the latter half, said: “We will miss them forever… More than just box office successes, they tugged at our hearts and captured our emotions.”

He said India’s strength lies in its diversity, and cinema celebrates it by having a unifying voice which transcends regions. He spoke about the “transformational times for cinema” and how “India is gaining traction as a filmmaking destination”.

Irani also hailed the noticeable presence of regional cinema and talent and also drew attention to how over 20 women were honoured at the stage.

All the officials who took to the mike thanked the President for his presence. However, the question many were left with after this edition of the ceremony, is why all the winners were not felicitated by the President.

In the letter, the protesting awardees said they felt “dejected rather than honoured” for their work.

It was on Wednesday that the awardees were informed that a large segment of the awards will not be presented by the President. They discussed the matter with Irani the same evening and were promised a reply.

"...We are disheartened to know that we will be deprived of the honour of this appreciation of a once-in-a-lifetime moment of pride and glory that the National Film Awards had promised us."
Smriti Irani, Information and Broadcasting Minister- wikimedia commons

“In the circumstance of not receiving a response for our grievance, we are left with no option but to be absent for the ceremony. We do not intend to boycott the award, but are not attending the ceremony to convey our discontent…

“It feels like a breach of trust when an institution/ceremony that abides by extreme protocol, fails to inform of such a vital aspect of the ceremony with prior notice. It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy.

“…We are disheartened to know that we will be deprived of the honour of this appreciation of a once-in-a-lifetime moment of pride and glory that the National Film Awards had promised us.”

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The President handed over the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Nargis Dutt Award for Feature Films on National Integration, Best Book on Cinema, Best Direction (non-feature film), Best Jasari Film, Best Male Playback Singer, Best Music Direction (songs and background music), Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Direction (feature film), Best Feature Film and Best Editing.

Singer Shashaa Tirupati felt “terribly disrespected”.

Shashaa, who bagged the Best Female Playback Singer for “Vaan varuvaan” from “Kaatru Veliyidai”, told IANS: “It’s like the thrill of it is gone now… National Awards and the President go hand-in-hand. For 64 years, they have been given by the President. When you speak of the National Award, automatically people visualise the President handing over the award to the recipient.”

Riddhi Sen, the Best Actor winner for the film “Nagarkirtan”, received the honour from the President. But he found the decision for others unfair.

“This is discrimination and this is absolutely unfair.” (BollywoodCountry)

 

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Police: People Breaks Security During President’s Visit To Puri temple

The Odisha Police today said “some people” had breached the security cordon

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Police: People Breaks Security During President's Visit To Puri temple
Police: People Breaks Security During President's Visit To Puri temple. Flickr

The Odisha Police today said “some people” had breached the security cordon during President Ram Nath Kovind’s visit to the Puri Jagannath Temple with his wife on March 18.

The statement by Puri Superintendent of Police Sarthak Sarangi comes a day after the state government denied receipt of any letter from the Rashtrapati Bhavan regarding the alleged misconduct of servitors in the 12th century shrine.

A section of the media had reported that the Rashtrapati Bhavan wrote to the temple administration, alleging inappropriate behaviour by servitors outside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple

Sarangi said the district collector of Puri, ahead of the President’s visit, was asked to ensure that no servitor goes close to the First couple or requests them to sign on any book during their visit to the temple.

“Though the temple administration had informed the servitors about the instruction, some people tried to go close to the President by breaching the security cordon. We had submitted a report to the temple administration in this connection,” Sarangi said.

However, the minutes of the temple management committee’s March 20 meeting, which had been in circulation on social media, mentioned that the Rashtrapati Bhavan expressed displeasure over the conduct of servitors.

It also said some servitors allegedly milled around Savita Kovind, while she was offering prayers inside the temple’s sanctum sanctorum, leading to occasional jostling.

Hon'ble President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, visited Belur Math on 29 Nov 2017
Hon’ble President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, visited Belur Math on 29 Nov 2017. Flickr

Sources in the temple administration, in their defence, said the March 20 meeting might have discussed the matter, based on a police report, which suggested that the security cordon was breached during the First couple’s visit.

The president of the Suar-Mahasuar Nijog (servitors’ organisation), Damodar Mahasuar, today lodged a complaint at the Singhadwara police station against Puri Collector Arvind Agarwal and former Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief Pradeep Jena, accusing them of trying to defame the servitors of the temple.

Binayak Dasmohapatra, the assistant secretary of another servitors’ body, said, “If such an incident had taken place, the police should have arrested the servitors immediately.” The temple administration is trying to malign the entire servitor community, he alleged.

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“Why did the temple administration and the police did not take action? Why did the temple administration not make the incident public after the meeting on March 20?” Dasmohapatra asked. (IANS)